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Kili Quest: Eradicating Poverty One Step at a Time

By Kelli Walker

Renee Lane and her daughter, Jacquelyn, turn their deep faith into action that lifts up everyone they meet. Guided by grace, gratitude, humility, service, and stewardship, Renee and Jacquelyn are preparing to scale a literal mountain to raise awareness, funds, and hope for families living in the deepest poverty in Malawi.

Dr. Gary and Renee Lane raised their three children in Colorado. Dr. Gary and Renee, who has her MS, RN, and ANP, are well-known in their town of Pueblo, not only for their medical clinic but for their work in the community. One of their daughters, Jacquelyn, studied chemical engineering at Oklahoma State and then earned a master’s degree in engineering for sustainable development from the University of Cambridge. Jacquelyn serves as the president of 100 Coaches Agency, where she works with world leaders in business and government to help them discover the best of themselves, unlocking human flourishing.

God has worked throughout the lives of the Lane family—but one specific, recent series of events led Renee and Jacquelyn to making a bold commitment: join Team Opportunity to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Each climber has committed to raising $20,000 which will fund ten women through Opportunity’s “Graduation” program in Malawi—a program that helps mothers in Malawi work their way out of poverty. When they begin the program, they live on just 50 cents a day, and by the end of two years, they have their own businesses and can stop the cycle of poverty for their families.

Jacquelyn (center) hiking in Cold Spring, NY, with her husband Michael (left) and friend Jen (right)
Jacquelyn (center) hiking in Cold Spring, NY, with her husband Michael (left) and friend Jen (right)

Imagine these two defining moments in the lives of young girls:

  • As a little girl, Renee used to spend time with her aunt who was the sole home health nurse in her rural county in western Nebraska. Her aunt was a gifted caregiver who treated each of her patients with kindness, caring, and creative problem solving (a requirement back in the day in rural counties!). Renee witnessed firsthand the power of being present for others, meeting people where they are.
  • When Jacquelyn was 10 years old, Renee took her to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science where they experienced an IMAX documentary on Mount Kilimanjaro. Jacquelyn decided then and there that she wanted to climb that mountain one day with her mom.

Years pass; Renee and Jacquelyn both experience personal and professional challenges, opportunities, and chances to grow, Renee in the world of medicine and Jacquelyn in academics and then in relationship-based coaching.

In addition to earning multiple degrees and certifications, Renee and her husband began supporting Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons, a non-denominational, multi-national service organization that trains African physicians to become surgeons who are willing to remain in Africa to meet a great need. Their practice has supported two locations in Malawi that she will visit this summer after the climb.

Jacquelyn grew into her own strengths—finding a profession that is also a calling, helping people find and see the best in themselves. Jacquelyn learned at a young age the gift of lifting up others, of helping people find their unique gifts. Her graduate thesis changed at the literal “11th hour” to focus on the emergent European refugee crisis. That project taught her that human issues are, at their root, sustainability issues: complex problems that are often overlooked, and yet at the center are humans with dreams and desires for stable lives. She speaks passionately about the idea of flourishing, of “thriving together, an expansiveness that has a ripple effect. When people are fully seen, they can begin to see themselves.”

Jacquelyn also became a supporter of Opportunity International, specifically drawn to the Ultra-Poverty Graduation program—which makes sense, as the program is rooted in meeting people where they are, then finding a path forward: women-led families who will create sustainable, healthier lives for their families and their entire villages if just given the chance. The chance starts with us providing food and safe housing, so Graduation participants can focus their energy on learning income-generating skills, business management, financial literacy, and family wellness.

Jacquelyn after hiking to the top of Peak 8 in Breckenridge, CO
Jacquelyn after hiking to the top of Peak 8 in Breckenridge, CO

So, remember we had two defining moments for Renee and Jacquelyn as children—and subsequent years lived as faithful servants—and then Jacquelyn heard about Team Opportunity’s commitment to climb Mount Kilimanjaro to help the mothers of Malawi. She reached out to her mom immediately, and without hesitation, Renee agreed. What a kaleidoscope of moments coming together: values of empathy and caring, a sense of adventure, a commitment to blessing others, and apparently some tolerance for physical pain and endurance training!

As Renee describes it, “We are ordinary people doing something extraordinary—people from across the United States, from different backgrounds and motivations, coming together to do something great: we are raising funds and increasing awareness of an opportunity that allows families to thrive and prosper.”

We are deeply grateful for Renee and Jacquelyn, two remarkable women who make a difference every day, not only for their own family and friends, but for women and children across the globe working their way out of the deepest poverty.

After Renee and Jacquelyn climb Kili this July, we’ll circle back with them to hear their stories and their experiences. If you’d like to be a part of helping lift up families in Malawi, please consider supporting Team Opportunity:

Team Opportunity: Renee Lane

Team Opportunity: Jacquelyn Lane

Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” -Proverbs 31:25-26

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